Saturday, June 13, 2009

Health Professionals: Take action to demand accountability for torture

The non-profit Bill of Rights Defense Committee has issued a series of open letters to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. These letters address this nation's ongoing struggle to own up to the use of torture, and hold accountable those government and private individuals that planned and implemented it.

There are letters specifically written for signing by legal professional, clergy and religious lay-leaders, educators, and the general public.

The following is the text of the letter for signature by health professionals, including physicians, psychologists, nurses, medical students, or other health professionals. Both this letter and links for the other categories of signatories can be found at this link. Please go and sign the letter today.
The Honorable Eric H. Holder
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We, the undersigned health professionals, write to share our concerns that your office’s reluctance to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate potential crimes by former officials involved in torturing detainees is endangering our nation’s stated fundamental values and our credibility as a nation that values and defends human rights.

The investigation of potential crimes, as others have shown, holds profound implications for our nation’s international legitimacy and future opportunities to credibly promote human rights. It also holds immense importance for the future historical record, as well as the necessary policy debates addressing detention, surveillance, and other violations of civil liberties under the Obama administration going forward.

Our concern here is more specific, reflecting our particular expertise as health professionals. Some mental health professionals and physicians abandoned our profession’s ethical commitment to “do no harm” and instead facilitated the abuse and torture of detainees in U.S. custody.

For example, when detainees were waterboarded, or shackled by their hands and feet to induce sleep deprivation, medical personnel and psychologists calibrated the intensity of abuse to ensure that it could continue. In addition, some military and intelligence psychologists helped design, conduct, and teach abusive interrogation techniques used by the CIA and Department of Defense.

Our professions’ participation in these abuses is an appalling affront to not only our ethical code, but also the law. Efforts within our professions to hold our members accountable for their role in torture are part of the solution, but do not complete it. Nor can those efforts reach other officials outside our professions who also enabled or conducted detainee abuse. Until our nation investigates and prosecutes those responsible for torturing detainees, the future use of torture will remain a risk facing our nation, our professions, and their respective values.

We urge you, in your capacity as our nation’s senior prosecutor, to restore the rule of law by ensuring its equal application to all.

Respectfully submitted,
The undersigned health professionals

cc: [members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence]
H/T to Stephen Soldz for notification of this campaign, and to both him and Physicians for Human Rights for their assistance in drafting the letter above.

1 comment:

Uncle $cam said...

Thanks for this Valtin...

Also, some recent links I posted in multiple posts will be of interest here.

Keep fighting the good fight!

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